After digging in their heels in the heat and dust across Tamil Nadu's political landscape, few will grudge the state's bigwigs the time to kick up their heels. This is, afterall, that time of the year when the most powerful political leaders probably feel like school children, waiting for their report cards.
Having hit the campaign trail with them all for a decade and a half, I can vouch for the fact that while leaders south of the Vindhyas may not be the most media savvy, they are most certainly among the most colourful of the whole crop in the country. Take a look at post battle unwinding, Tamil Nadu style.
As she drove up the hills to her summer retreat cum camp office in Kodanad, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa must have been praying that her national political ambition isn't an uphill task. The record turnout of women voters was bound to have given the Amma camp a feel good vibe. The AIADMK headquarters may also be happy with the trademark optimistic intelligence reports, predicting 25 to 30 out of the 39 seats. Having had the longest campaign schedule, Jayalalithaa is likely to combine some well needed rest, perhaps even a few steps with the Badaga tribal women, along with administrative work and strategy meetings ahead of counting day, before which she is expected back in Chennai.
The boss of the Rising Sun - Karunanidhi doesn't complain about the heat and rarely takes a break. His date with yoga, newspapers, writing his letter to party workers in the Murasoli and his daily visit to Anna Arivalayam keep the 90 year old patriarch going.
Kalaignar's successor and son MK Stalin loves who led the DMK charge in this election, braving a challenge from brother Alagiri, loves travelling and sight seeing. The doting grandfather makes it a point to take his family out on a holiday to exotic locales, this time, reportedly to Hong Kong.
Former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran is off to Dubai with his folks to soak in the IPL excitement and cheer the Hyderabad Sun Risers that the SUN Group owns.
An ace badminton player, the other Union Minister Anbumani Ramadoss must be all smiles with the turnout in the peoples court in Dharmapuri, which accounted for the highest polling percentage in the state, a staggering 80%. The PMK leader's aides indicate that he has chosen to defer holiday plans and campaign for the BJP in the North.
DMDK Chief Vijaykanth and Finance Minister P Chidambaram's son Karti have devoted their time off to their children. Vijaykanth is reported to have gone to Malaysia to zero in on a shooting location for his son. Karti is headed to Mumbai with his teenaged daughter Aditi for an aptitude exam. The Congress Sivaganga candidate is confident of garnering at least 20% of the votes. The Cambridge educated AICC member may also sneak in some time for some tennis.
It's a long hot summer in Tamil Nadu. But heading to cooler climes may just be a placebo. The real heat is from the stakes involved for all these key players. Because there is no such thing as a free vacation.
(Sanjay Pinto is a lawyer, author and former national TV journalist)